Early in the fourth quarter Monday night, after the Patriots scored to make it 35-7, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels got loud.
Even though the Patriots had just scored, McDaniels reamed his offense for missed assignments and avoidable errors that had been emerging since early in the second quarter.
When McDaniels was done, Tom Brady gave a "What he said..." amplifier to McDaniels' comments. After the dressing down, the Patriots had a 10-play, 68-yard touchdown drive (albeit against a checked-out Texans defense) to end their evening.
On Tuesday, McDaniels discussed the message he was sending.
"The big thing I was saying really has more to do with the things that we can control," said McDaniels. "I thought we had some unforced errors that we can prevent. When you're playing a good team, they're gonna make some plays and hopefully you're gonna make some plays, but the ones you need to prevent are the ones that have nothing to do with something that they did.
"We had a couple balls on the ground last night," McDaniels pointed out. "We had a couple drops. We had a couple of missed assignments in protection. For us to be able to go out there and execute against a good team and sustain that level, you've gotta first start with doing your job right. I think that was really all I was saying and trying to get us to finish the game there."
After scoring their third straight touchdown to open the game, the Patriots ran 23 plays on their next six drives. One of those was a five-play touchdown drive culminating in a third-down bomb to Donte' Stallworth. The other five drives gained 34 total yards and four of them were three-and-outs.
"We started off and played some really good football and did some good things and then we did have a few three-and-outs there right in a row consecutively which you never like to do because it puts the defense back out there quickly," McDaniels noted. "Credit goes to (the Texans), they did a lot of good things. They pressured us, they came after us and that was really a big point in the game and they made some plays in that stretch that forced us off the field."
Had the Texans offense been able to do anything against a New England defense that ruined their game plan, the game could have narrowed during that stretch. That, McDaniels seemed to be saying, was what he was concerned with. What happened is important. But what could have happened was as well.
"Before we even start dealing with scheme and blitzes and all that, let's just take care of our assignment and have that be the starting point for our offense," McDaniels said. "When you do that, you always give yourself a chance. Whenever you hit a lull, it's always good to come back and talk about doing your job right and I think that's what the message was when I was talking to them."